Georgia Lottery Winner Craigory Burch Jr.
For many lottery winners, the dream of winning often turns out to be too good to be true. After all, it isn’t always as simple as taking home a large sum of money and living one’s life more carelessly, especially in states that require winners to reveal their identities. For lottery winner Craigory Burch, his lucky win soon led to tragedy when he was murdered in his own home during a robbery attempt.
Burch’s Big Win
When 20-year-old Fitzgerald, Georgia, resident Craigory Burch purchased a Fantasy 5 ticket from his local H&R Food Mart, he was eager to win, positive that his luck was on the up. A few days later, when the winning numbers were announced on November 29, 2015, Burch was thrilled to find that he’d matched all five winning numbers and won nearly half a million dollars. With the jackpot reaching $434,272, Burch would be going home much richer than the day before.
One Tragic Night
Unfortunately, just two months after his win, the winner fell victim to a violent crime after sharing his story on his Facebook page. Three armed people broke into his home late at night on January 20, 2016, with the intent of robbing him. Though he pleaded with the attackers not to hurt him in front of his girlfriend and children, even offering them his bank card, he was fatally shot nonetheless.
Seven suspects were arrested and charged with the following crimes: aggravated assault, armed robbery, possession of a firearm, and malice murder. It was confirmed by authorities that the victim was pre-selected by his attackers.
Criticism of Georgia Law
In the wake of the murder, Georgia citizens were outraged—particularly with the officials of the state of Georgia, which had only made it possible for lottery winners to remain anonymous a week before Burch’s death. Many held Georgia representatives and the Georgia Lottery Corporation accountable for the violent events that took place. It was believed that had Burch not been legally obligated to publicise his lottery win, he would still be alive today.
The states which allow lottery winners to remain anonymous include Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas. Arizona, Virginia, and Georgia also allow anonymity, but only for winners who have won over a certain amount.
After Craigory Burch’s tragic death, his family recanted what a wonderful person he was. During one of the suspects’ court dates, his father remembered him as a hardworking and loving parent. The winner had been working since age 14, and before his lottery win he’d taken on a full-time job as a forklift operator. With a big family, including his loving girlfriend and two children, Burch is undoubtedly missed by his loved ones.
Craigory Burch’s untimely demise is just another example of the dangers lottery winners face. In this day and age, the Internet makes it a simple task to check someone’s public records, leaving many winners vulnerable to the public. Though winning the lottery would have its own share of upsides, the downsides (aka the lottery curse) can often be much greater for those whose identities are shared.
In any event, it is important to make sure to reduce your online presence as much as possible in the event you are lucky enough to score a big win, especially when it comes to sensitive information (phone numbers, addresses, and so forth). You never know the dangers that lurk until you are confronted with them.
That being said, sometimes the people you need to be most wary of are the ones that you're closest to—a lesson that another lottery winner, Urooj Khan, learned far too late.